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Liu Yung and his Tz’u Leung, Winnie Lai-Fong

Abstract

The subject of this paper is the poet Liu Yung (987-1053) and his tz'u. Tz'u, a type of Chinese poetry originally intended to be sung, was a dominant poetic genre in the Sung Dynasty (960-1279). Liu Yung was not only the most popular tz'u poet in the Sung but also an important landmark in the historical development of the tz'u genre. The body of this paper is divided into two main parts. The first part reconstructs Liu's life based on the limited and scattered existing sources. This will present an outline of his activities as well as sketch his personality all of which will shed some light towards a better understanding of his poems and of his ability to change the tz'u genre. The second part, which constitutes the main body of the paper, explores the various characteristics of his poems emphasizing his various innovations in the tz'u genre. In the course of the discussion, comparisons and contrasts are made with the tz'u of the T'ang and the Five Dynasties in order to show how Liu departed from previous tz'u tradition. At the same time considerable attention is devoted to comparing Liu's tz'u with the Tun-huang folk songs in order to show how Liu was influenced by folk literature. More specifically, the second part uses a quantitative and analytical approach to examine in detail the form, content and technique of his tz'u. In particular, this part first examines Liu's most significant contribution to the tz'u genre--his use of the man-tz'u tune-patterns. Here, emphasis is placed on Liu's innovative role in expanding and developing the use of the longer tune-patterns in the writing of tz'u. The second part next explores the three "worlds" or the three main thematic categories of Liu's tz'u--poems on women and love, poems on separation and rootless wandering and poems on city life. Besides comparing and contrasting them with the Tun-huang folk songs and with the tz'u of the T'ang and the Five Dynasties, emphasis is also placed to show how Liu broadened and deepened the content of tz'u. Thirdly, the second part looks into Liu's diction including his use of images, various comparison and substitution techniques and creative imagery. Special attention is directed towards Liu's innovative use of colloquialisms, something which later greatly influenced the language of tz'u. Fourthly, the second part focuses on how Liu creates a strong sense of rhythm and continuity in his tz'u, partly through the conventional technique of repetition of sound (rhymes and tones), words (alliteration, rhyming and reduplicative disyllables) and lines (parallelism). Here, special attention is paid to his unique technique for creating rhythm and continuity—the use of lead-words and enjambment. Fifthly, the second part examines how Liu uses his particular expansive technique in his two types of poetic presentation—the direct narration of events and psychology and the fusion of emotion and scene. The general conclusion is that despite the fact that Liu was harshly attacked by orthodox scholars for his direct mode of expressing love and boudoir themes and the use of colloquialisms, still his various important innovations in the form, content and technique all of which greatly influenced the development of tz'u make him a pivotal figure in the history of tz'u.

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